Home security cameras are more affordable than ever. One can easily buy a basic 1,080p model from the likes of Xiaomi for less than $50 online.
It is this entry-level segment that networking firm TP-Link is targeting with its Tapo series of Wi-Fi security cameras, which was launched here late last year.
At just $75, the TP-Link Tapo C200 offers pan and tilt functionality at a competitive price point. But it lacks features offered by more expensive cameras, such as cloud storage and the smarts of artificial intelligence to differentiate between animals and humans.
The C200’s build quality is also lacking compared with TP-Link’s more expensive Kasa line of home security cameras. It feels like a cheap and light plastic toy rather than an electronic gadget.
Perhaps a different team in TP-Link is responsible for the Tapo cameras because it has its own mobile app instead of piggybacking on the Kasa Smart mobile app used by TP-Link’s other smart home devices, such as its smart plugs, routers and security cameras.
I have to download yet another mobile app, Tapo (available for iOS and Android), before I could set up and use the C200 camera. But at least I could log in to the Tapo app using the same TP-Link account I had previously created for other TP-Link products.
Scan the QR code on the C200 using the Tapo app to start the set-up process, which uses a mix of visuals in the app as well as audio cues to guide users.
Its video quality is decent at 1,080p, though it can feel a bit choppy because it supports only up to 15 frames per second.
Its built-in microphone and speaker (for two-way voice calls) are middling and have a fair amount of noise and static. Its night vision feature lets the camera capture objects up to about 9m away.
The app supports live video feeds from up to 32 cameras. Users can also connect the Tapo app to Google Home or Amazon Alexa and stream the live video feed to a smart display like the Google Nest Hub or the Amazon Echo Show. But there is a delay of around five seconds when I tried this using the Google Nest Hub.
Like other home security cameras, the C200 will send an alert via the Tapo app if it senses motion within its field of view.
• Relatively affordable for a pan and tilt camera
• Decent features for its price
• Uses a different mobile app from TP-Link’s older cameras
• No cloud storage option
• Feels like a cheap toy
VIDEO RESOLUTION: Up to 1,920 x 1,080 pixels
VIDEO FORMAT: H.264
FIELD OF VIEW: Up to 360 degrees horizontal, up to 114 degrees vertical
NIGHT VISION: Yes, up to about 9m
MOTION DETECTION: Yes
MOBILE APPS: iOS and Android
You can create a custom schedule for this feature to be active – for instance, only during the night or when no one is at home.
Motion will also trigger a video recording on the microSD card (sold separately) installed in the camera. The camera supports a microSD card of up to 128GB – equivalent to 16 days of footage. These recordings can be accessed via the app.
These motion-triggered videos are found in the app’s Playback section, while videos and pictures you initiate manually are found in the Memories section. I found this distinction quite confusing in the beginning.
Up to 14 activity zones – custom-ised rectangles to denote where the camera should be focusing – can be created in the app.
I found the motion detection to be accurate, but the camera lacks the ability – unlike some more expensive cameras – to distinguish between animals, humans and vehicles.
But I like the C200’s pan and tilt function as I can manually rotate it 360 degrees using the app to view the entire room. This is not possible with fixed wide-angle models.
Overall, the C200 is easy to use and has most of the features one would need in a home security camera, making it a decent package especially given its price.